Holland & Barrett Accused Of Paying Its Suppliers Late

Small business commissioner says the health food retailer doesn’t take prompt payment seriously and doesn’t care about its suppliers

Holland & Barrett Accused Of Paying Its Suppliers Late

Holland & Barrett is being accused of consistently delaying payments to its suppliers by the small business commissioner, Paul Uppal. He also pointed to data showing that the company takes an average of 68 says to pay its invoices while 60% of them are not paid within the agreed terms. Moreover, he criticized Holland & Barrett for failing to cooperate with his investigation. It seems that Uppal’s investigation began after his office received a complaint from a technology company over an unpaid £15,000 invoice. Uppal stated:

”Holland & Barrett’s refusal to cooperate with my investigation, as well as their published poor payment practices, says to me that this is a company that doesn’t care about its suppliers or take prompt payment seriously. The government is determined to end the scourge of late payments and bring about a cultural change to deliver responsible payment practices.”

Holland & Barrett was founded in 1870 in Nuneaton, and is now Europe’s largest health food chain with more than 1,300 stores and over 4,000 employees. Outside the UK it has 182 stores in the Netherlands, 52 in Ireland, and 20 in Belgium. In 2017 the company was sold to a Russian billionaire for £1.8bn. Holland & Barrett said in its defense:

“Our agreed payment terms are a standard 90 days, although in fact our average payment time is around 60 days. This is a single complaint and is in relation to one invoice for £15,000 for an IT supplier that was lost in our payment process in the run-up to the busy Christmas period. Once we established what had happened we resolved it very quickly. We work hard to help many of our suppliers with easy payment arrangements as many of them are small and just entering the market – BeautyKitchen, for example, is one of a number of new and smaller suppliers where we have zero-day payment terms or payment by return to assist with their cashflow.”

The government said it’s determined to end poor payment practices that is why they appointed a small business commissioner to help recover money owed to small businesses in the last five years. Kelly Tolhurst, the small business minister stated that “in the coming months we will set out our response to the consultation on ending the culture of late payments, with plans to level the playing field for small businesses.”